Monday, May 5, 2014

Franklin and Hemphill

No excuse for plagiarism.

A certain plagiarist discussed at this blog recommends the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  No doubt one reason is Franklin's defense of the plagiarism of the preacher Hemphill, discussed here.

The question is whether it is better to have an excellent plagiarized speech or essay, or mediocre originality.  Franklin (and, presumably, Hamilton) sides with the former view.  But this is a false choice.  If a person, like Hemphill or Hamilton, recognizes their lack of originality, and wants to use the work of others, fine, but why can't they cite these others? The issue is not with a lack of originality - not everyone can be original.  The issue is a lack of character.  Yes, if you must, use others' work, but have the decency and integrity to cite that fact. Thus, for example, I've based much of my own ideas on the work of Salter and Yockey, but I've always cited them and given credit where credit is due.  I've been one of the leading defenders and extenders of Salter's work, but have always made clear that EGI is Salter's idea, not mine. Further, even when I've added original permutations to the EGI concept, such as the importance of genetic structure, I've also frequently mentioned that others - such as James Bowery and Ben Tillman - also independently came up with similar ideas at around the same time.

That's why Franklin was wrong.  Hemphill could have used the sermons of others to his heart's content, but he could have avoided the completely justified criticism of his character by admitting that the work was from those others.  

The "movement" has a character problem.  This issue is one manifestation of that problem. Defective characters should be eschewed from the "movement."  Of course, I realize that would result in the loss of, say, 99% of "movement activists," but quality is more important that quantity, no?


One more thing.  The plagiarist makes a point of addressing his reading suggestion to "people who comment anonymously on the Internet"  - note that the inclusion of "anonymously" seems to imply something negative in contrast to those who, like, say, Taylor or Duke or MacDonald, etc., comment openly.  The comment indirectly and slyly leaves the impression to the reader that the author of that comment is himself not an anonymous or pseudononymous commentator. Of course, he can't directly come out and say that, since it's not true, as we can see from the TOQ website (emphasis added):


Andrew Hamilton is the pen name of a widely-published author on the science and politics of race.

Yet another anonymous/pseudononymous Internet commentator.  Here is some more recommended reading for Internet commentators.

Those who have heretofore hosted the writing of this plagiarist need to carefully consider whether they want to be associated with these ethical lapses and this obvious lack of integrity.